“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’”
Matthew 25: 21 New Living Translation
My good friend Jonathan Miller retired this past Sunday. I skipped our Contemporary Worship service so that I could hear him preach for last time as the Senior Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Moorestown, New Jersey.
It was a cool, windy morning, the stiff breezes perfect for Pentecost. The beautiful, spacious sanctuary of First Church was jammed packed. There was no room for even a friend like me. So I made my way to their Fellowship Hall where, on one side, I sat next to a friend from my previous church and on the other side, Amber Wood with Joel to her side. We listened to an audio feed of their 11:00 a.m. worship service.
As I sat listening to my dear friend preach, I was wondering how Jonathan had touched the lives of all those people who crammed into the church that day. Jonathan has served this congregation for 22 years. In that time he made more visits to hospitals, nursing facilities, colleges, schools, and homes than can be counted. Jonathan excels at pastoral care. He cares for his people and for many who had no official connection to the church in the most extraordinary ways. I’ve known Jonathan Miller to make an 8-hour round trip to visit someone’s mother in a hospital.
I can tell you a lot of Jonathan Miller stories. Once he spent the day before Christmas Eve—only the day before the single biggest night in the church year mind you—helping a single woman who was on staff of the church buy a Christmas tree. Her father had died earlier that year and he had always gone with her to buy a tree. Jonathan filled the role of her now-departed father.
As I was wondering how about the untold stories of Jonathan’s ministry, I also wondered if he knew how much his people loved him. I think Jonathan did because like you, members of TMPC, the folks at First Church Moorestown have been generous and lavish in their thanks.
Kent Sanders is a professor of worship at a Christian college in St. Louis. He writes a blog called The Artist’s Suitcase. He once wrote a post called “Ten Things Pastors Wish Church Members Knew About Ministry”. The tenth item on that list is this: “I wish you knew how much your encouragement means. I am often much more discouraged than you realize. I usually do a pretty good job of hiding it. But to be perfectly honest, the weight of leadership, the criticism, the pressure, the expectations, and the spiritual attacks are sometimes more than I can bear. When you send me an encouraging email or note, when you pray for me personally, when you show love to my family, when you offer to help…that’s huge. Your encouragement can turn my whole week around.” (http://www.artistssuitcase.com/10-things-pastors-wish-church-members-knew/)
On Sunday Jonathan Miller received a lot of thanks for his ministry. It was all deserved but I hope he heard it from people throughout his two decades of ministry. I think he did. And I know my friend has the full favor of God resting upon him: ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’”